Ray Donovan: Season IV – Ep. 8 “The Texan”: A Review

Posted: 08/22/2016 in Uncategorized
Episode 408

Liev Schreiber as Ray Donovan and Devon Bagby as Conor Donovan in RAY DONOVAN (Season 4, Episode 08). – Photo: Michael Desmond/SHOWTIME – Photo ID: RayDonovan_408_599.R

Another solid run occurs with Ep. 8 as the show goes back to its roots, namely the fixer fixing things. A surprising arc occurs with Mickey Donovan actually doing something eerily altruistic. A lot went down and most of it was good, including an actual character development moment for resident dunderhead, Conor Donovan (Devon Bagby). My opening delivered, on to my review.

We open with the aftermath of Ed Cochrane’s betrayal and the reveal of “the Texan”. A face to face a the hospital as he recovers from being shot twice by Cochrane, yields some strong moments between the fixers. The Texan (Stacy Keach) is no Ray Donovan (Liev Schreiber). By his own admission, he handles the “darker stuff” but does caution Ray that ‘you can only be clever for so long’. The Texan shares his back story, told simply and straightforwardly, warts and all. He tells him of his own penchant for violence and how having served in Vietnam left him too violent for regular society. He essentially tells Ray how Ezra (Elliot Gould) both saved and damned him. The similarity between both men is bolstered by the presence of the Texan’s daughter, who he tells Ray, “knows nothing about what he does” believing he is “in insurance”. When the two part company, Ray backs the older man’s play, telling her “he was the life of office parties…”Despite the ups and down Ray has endured this season, there is unquestionably growth with him. He has taken a path of greater honesty with his family. While not admitting everything he has done or does, he no longer hides the fact he is a fixer and as such often has to do unpleasant work for the rich and famous.

Highlights of this episode, oddly enough, actually included Ray’s son Conor for once. Ray finds his son dancing around to a video screen (dance revolution) and when he challenges his father, Ray actually accepts. The two share some casual banter and Ray and Conor actually have a good time. Abby joins in and watching the trio acting silly simply works as it occurs organically. The scene hearkened to Ray’s dance off with his son to Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way” seasons back which was one of the show’s greater moments. The happy moment as with most happy moments in this show, is fleeting. Conor’s earlier ‘purloining’ his mother’s gun leads to some not so pleasant face time with Ray, and undoes any goodwill earned earlier. Ray takes Conor out to the harder parts of town for a lesson. By his later admission he “goes too far” with his son, though not in my view. The subsequent moments with Abby however are exceedingly well done as we learn a bit about what makes Conor tick. His recognition that he is viewed as “dumb” by those around him yields his real issue encapsulated with his terse “I’m just some prick from Calabasas”.  Conor sees his parents as a hard edged ideal, as ‘gangster” royalty. Abby’s moments with him at a gun range might yield negative results. Her telling him about her illness is a powerful step forward in their relationship. Ray’s later heart to heart is a beautiful moment as he tells his son he wants his path to diverge from his as much as possible.

Ray’s decent act on Hector Campos’ (Ismael Cruz-Cordova)  behalf is more of a gift to Terry (Eddie Marsan) who has earned such good will. Campos is broken and poison; his half sister Marisol (Lisa Bonet) is even more so. Her executing the act she earlier threatened yields expected results. Terry intercedes on the former champ’s behalf, seeing helping him as assuring a proper legacy via his gym’s aggrandizement, and the potential to help his protégé in the process. Ray’s fixing skills are formidable. His playing Stu Feldman (Josh Pais) like a filthy violin is masterful. Ray’s using Daryll (Pooch Hall) as his wild card enforcer pays off but might lead to issues down the road. The mingling of family and business has always been more of a source of heartbreak than not with the Donovans.

The surprise in this run was Mickey (Jon Voigt). He is always the most disruptive, negative, corrupting influence. Yet in this run, he presents something akin to honor. He actually encourages Bunchy/Brendan (Dash Mihok) to go to his wife, Teresa (Alyssa Diaz), and bring her home from the mental health facility where her family left her. Mickey’s declaration that the people inhabiting this facility are “beautiful, broken people” is sincere.  His asking a clearly troubled woman if she has anyone who loves her earns her “if I did, do you think I’d be here?” pleads his case to Bunchy more powerfully than any of his inappropriately phrased attempts possibly could. None of the scenes come off as forced which is testament to the skill of the show runners when they are on track.

There are revelations about Teresa that suggest that Bunchy might have wanted to get to know her a little better beforehand, but his heart and intent behind his actions are undeniable. He brings back an item from her place and tells her brother plainly “we don’t turn anybody away”  referring to the Donovan family motto. His delivery of this pronouncement and later follow through explaining to Teresa as she lies in her heavily medicated haze that she is his “wonder woman” is why we so often pull for this character. The end sequence road trip moment between Mickey and Bunchy stands to yield some memorable moments in the next run.

There are bad things coming. Ray is preparing, as nicely intuited with his vault visit at Ezra’s. This is not a light family fare show. There is darkness yet to come, but with the fixer back in play and his support system via both his families at his back, the outcome for Ray Donovan is far less grim. “The Texan” maintains the standard to which we are accustomed, assuring us that Ray Donovan is simply outstanding and well worth your time.

 

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